Being an Informed Voter in Huntsville, Texas

Morgan Robertson

Local elections are fast approaching, and what better way is there to know who is running and what they stand for than to meet the candidates? This week at the Texas Prison Museum the Republican Party of Walker County and the Walker County Republican Women sponsored a non-partisan meet and greet with a few of the candidates who are running. Almost a hundred people attended!

Yvette and I volunteered by helping people sign in and ensuring they had a copy of the night’s agenda. After a semester-plus in LEAP, we are beginning to become more informed and recognize various community leaders! It’s important, too, to note that these were non-partisan positions. In Texas, elections for city positions, school board positions, and hospital district positions are all non-partisan. For many, just knowing this is part of the voter education process, and at least by design, allows voters to set aside their party preferences and vote for the person who has the best policy ideas and record of commitment and accomplishment.

Linda McKenzie directed candidates where to sit and how they would give their speeches. Each candidate was allotted 4 minutes to speak .

Blake Irving (councilmember from Ward 3) started the speeches off by explaining his vision and goals he wishes to achieve if he is to be elected mayor. Irving’s incumbent opponent, Mayor Andy Brauninger, spoke on his time as mayor, how the city has grown, and his vision for the community.

Trevor Thorn and Deloris Massey are running for Council in Ward 3, and they discussed their ideas for representing that Ward and for the City.

Candidates Jon Strong and Yvette McMurry are running for the Ward 4 seat; however, McMurry was feeling unwell and was unable to attend. During Strong’s speech he talked about his family business and how he wishes to give back to the city.

On a more lighthearted note, unopposed Russell Humphrey joked that his wife, Tish Humphrey (who previously held the Ward 2 seat), coerced him into running this term. He then went on to explain the importance of serving and giving back to one’s city.

We were also able to hear from Hospital Board candidates Lane Aiena and Joe Sapp (the latter is an incumbent), as well as New Waverly ISD candidate Steven Gregory.

In all, the events provided much information to us and, we hope, to the community at large–in doing so, they allow us to move beyond the name on a yard sign and vote in an informed manner.

Once all the speeches were made, we spent the remaining time socializing and getting to know members of our community. Yvette and I even ran into a former LEAP Ambassador, Brian Aldaco, who now works in Congressman Kevin Brady’s office. Getting to meet all the candidates gave us a closer touch of Huntsville.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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